I haven’t been regularly updating my sightings and numbers, so here’s an update. I got close to my informal goal of 200 NYS species last year so for 2013 I’m making an effort to pass that number. And I think I’ve got a good chance — my list so far is about 180 and climbing, with new life birds notably increasing at the rate of almost two a month. Chasing has been variably successful, like the Upland Sandpiper on a fencepost just where he was supposed to be, followed by a completely unexpected Clay-colored Sparrow. Club trips and leads on the listserv led me to Hooded Warblers and Cliff Sparrows.
HMBC’s area guide has sent me to unexplored corners of our counties and told me what to watch for when I’m just tooling around town. A true labor of love, Tom Williams’ Capital District Bird-finding Calendar compiles years of local observations into a timetable telling me who’s where and when.
Migration was funky this spring. General wisdom is that prevailing weather patterns sent birds westward, away from the coast. We also didn’t have good fallout weather, and the few drop-ins stayed only a day or so before they were off. It’s been a slow haul getting a good Warbler collection. And shorebirds? Fuggeddaboudit. Spotted, Solitary, the odd Yellowlegs — that’s it. I’ll have to study up on fall plumages and try to catch them on the way south.
I’ve done a lot of work on song recognition this year. It all comes down to attention — the difference in tempo between Red-eyed Vireo and Blue-headed‘s repetitious song is clear if I don’t dismiss it without really listening.
Weak points? ID. Still. Really, they’re not all Song Sparrows. And if a more experienced birder calls out a species I’m not familiar with, I need to remind myself to double-check its identity. Expectations can fool the best of us!
And no, I’m not going to inflict all 180-odd names on you. Here’s a look at the portable version.
Anybody up for chasing a Mississippi Kite? It’s just down the road a piece!
* indicates a life bird.